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Ripon Grammar School students reach the national finals of the Warhammer School League tournament
8th May 2019

TABLETOP battle gamers from Ripon Grammar School have reached the national finals of the Warhammer School League tournament.

The elite team proved to be master strategists when they hammered the opposition in regional schools’ heats to win a place in the national finals.

Fifth former James Dobbs and third formers Sam Cann, Ryan Green and Matthew Shackleton emerged victorious from the highly competitive Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team tournament in Nottingham after playing three 30-minute matches each.

They beat teams from as far as Cornwall, Glasgow, Cardiff and Norwich and will now battle it out against schools including the London Oratory School, King’s School, Macclesfield and Dunbar Grammar School, Scotland, in June.

James said his team’s strategy was to play smart: “We mostly focus on holding objectives, rather than just pouring fire into the enemy troops and hoping for the best.”

Warhammer 40,000 is a fantasy game set in the distant future, where a stagnant human civilisation is beset by hostile aliens and malevolent supernatural creatures.

To prepare for the school games, competitors had to build and paint their own squad of miniatures, all with different stats and abilities - a process which requires patience, dedication and artistic skill.

With points awarded for preparation, games won and sporting conduct, building an effective army, utilising your force’s strengths and exploiting opponents’ weaknesses are the keys to victory.

James explained the secret of their success: “We adapt strategies on the fly as, up until we start the game, we don’t know what we’ll be up against, so our model combinations can be readily adapted to face almost any foe.”

The team won seven games, lost five and had no draws, getting close to full points for their equipment.

RGS maths teacher James Ward first introduced James to Warhammer, while Sam, Ryan and Matthew played before they started the school: “I was intrigued by these little model armies, with their array of weaponry and vehicles,” said James.

“I enjoy it as it takes a lot of tactical thinking, both in planning your army and on the tabletop. The lore and backstories are long and intricate but it is easy to pick up.”

The boys are now looking forward to further tabletop battlefield clashes at the finals in June, where 20 schools, out of an original line-up of more than 70, will take part.

“We will be up against the very best school teams from across the UK,” said James, who added that he and his team were preparing for the June 25 final by encouraging each other to finish models. “And as we travel, we will be discussing rules and tactics.”